Augmented reality interior design: 6 use cases
Shopping for furniture and interior design has never been easier — and it’s all thanks to augmented reality technology.
Although not yet mainstream, many homeware companies are already developing 3D models of their product catalogues and offering customers the ability to visualise life-size examples of furniture and home decor pieces in their own spaces before purchase.
IKEA’s Place app, which lets potential customers see thousands of products in AR, is probably the most famous example. The app superimposes lifesize 3D furniture onto users’ real-life environments, making it easier for them to decide whether the piece they’re eyeing, be it an armchair, coffee table, or floor lamp, will fit into their home. As a result, IKEA can cut down on returns and, in the case of undecided buyers, reduce cart abandonment.
That the app filled a gaping hole in the market is obvious. Just six months after launching, IKEA Place had seen 13 million downloads and was the second most popular app on the AppStore. Unsurprisingly, other furniture shops and even art retailers were quick to follow in IKEA’s steps, launching their own successful AR apps.
AR has had a great impact on the furniture retail industry, but now, it’s about to transform interior design too. Whether used by customers looking to upgrade their homes or interior designers to use with clients while on-location, AR technology can help make a house a home.
Here are six examples of how interior decoration brands and retailers can use AR.
1. AR-powered decor recommendations
Being able to visualise how a specific couch or dining room table would look like in your room isn’t anything new. But what if there was an app that could take into account your current home design style and tell you exactly where you should place your new furniture and home decor pieces to make your home shine?
Sounds pretty futuristic, but Shopify is already working on an app that promises to be able to do exactly that.
While little is known about the feature to date, Daniel Beauchamp, the head of VR and AR at Shopify, shared a video on his Twitter earlier in 2021 that gives us a glimpse into what the AR app might be like. In the video, we can see the app recommending and adding AR products such as pillows, wall art, and other home accessories to a room based on the existing decor, including the style of the furniture and the colour scheme used throughout the space.
For customers who struggle with decorating their homes, this feature could make shopping for home furnishings a much more enjoyable experience. On the other hand, for brands, it’s an easy way to sell consumers products they may not otherwise think of buying.
2. AR showrooms
IKEA is, without a doubt, one of the most popular furniture stores in the world. And although there’s no denying that flatpack furniture has a lot to do with the company’s success, the brand’s showrooms can’t be overlooked, either.
Specifically, the layout of IKEA’s showroom floors is genius because it recreates actual rooms in a home. When customers can see furniture and home decor pieces in a natural environment, they are better able to understand their value and are therefore more likely to purchase them.
But what if people can’t or are unwilling to visit your showrooms? And what about stores that don’t have physical premises? AR showrooms may be the answer.
With AR, furniture and homeware brands can virtually “transport” shoppers to showrooms where they can see how a room is decorated with the brand’s products and get inspiration for their own home.
For example, we recently partnered with MADE.COM to create an Amsterdam-style apartment that users could “visit” through their smartphone.
Shoppers could view the apartment either through their phone’s front-facing camera or their phone’s back-facing camera. The back-facing camera superimposed a mirror sold by MADE.COM onto a user’s room, through which they could see into the apartment. On the other hand, the front-facing camera lifted customers into the apartment where they could take photos and videos of themselves “walking” through it.
3. AR wallpaper, wall paint, and tiling
Should you paint your room blue? Will those tiles work in your bathroom? And how likely are you to regret hanging that floral wallpaper? These are the kinds of questions that people looking to refresh their space ask themselves. Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is only apparent when the project is completed.
To solve this very real problem, the tech entrepreneurs Adam Debreczeni and Russ Maschmeyer came together to create Primer. Already acquired by Shopify, this AR app lets users visualise flat design elements like paint, tiles, and wallpaper in their own environment through their phones.
Unlike paint, wallpaper, or tile samples, which rarely give a good idea of what the finished room will look like, Primer can virtually cover a person’s entire walls with their choice of product, even working around things like furniture and wall art.
However, what’s really cool about this app is that it takes note of lighting, meaning that customers can see exactly how a specific paint colour would look on their walls in the morning versus the evening.
If a user likes how a specific product looks, they can click on the shopping cart icon to be redirected to a participating brand’s website, where they can complete their purchase.
4. AR blinds and curtains
Finding blinds and curtains that suit a particular interior is no less challenging than purchasing other homeware. Luckily, here too, AR can help.
Anwis, a European company that specialises in window blinds, has created Anwis Home, an AR app that lets users place one of their products on a scanned area of their window to see whether it goes with the rest of the room.
Users can easily change the colour and design of the blinds and view the 3D model from all sides, as well as raise, lower, and change the angle of the virtual blades.
One of the most annoying parts of buying blinds is having to measure your window to ensure that they fit. With Anwis Home, as soon as the user saves a project, the app automatically notes down the measurements of the blinds they tried. Even more impressive is that the app also gives them the option of sharing the AR visualisation with an Anwis representative via Facebook, Instagram, or an MMS message.
5. AR floor and rugs
Choosing the right flooring is not something that most people take lightly. Get it wrong, and you’ll either have to live with disappointment or start from scratch. The good news is that with AR, people can visualise what their new floor will look like before they tear their existing floor apart.
The “View in my Room” 3D app that belongs to the home inspiration website Houzz has a feature that allows users to quickly see what different flooring options would look like in their homes.
The feature involves users scanning their rooms twice: once to detect the location and orientation of the floor and once to add anchor points to each corner in the room so that the app can create accurate room measurements. If a user likes how the floor looks, they can get an automatic cost estimate based on these measurements and, if the cost is suitable, add the product to their shopping cart.
In some cases, people may not necessarily want to change the floor itself but rather add a carpet or a rug to switch up their space instantly.
Previously, the only way to figure out whether a rug suited a room was to order it and try it out. This, of course, meant that if the rug did not work in the space, the customer had to go through the hassle of sending it back. Now, however, some rug retailers are offering shoppers rug visualisation experiences.
6. AR measuring
Some of the AR apps we mentioned above can also measure a customer’s room or specific parts of a room to make sure that the products they’re thinking of buying fit into their space. Unfortunately, others lack this feature. But that’s okay — because there are plenty of AR apps designed to do specifically that.
Take AirMeasure, for instance. The app, which describes itself as “one of the most used measuring utilities on the App Store,” lets users measure anything, anywhere — as long as they have their smartphone with them.
Users that want to measure the length of a sofa or a dining room table can tap where they want their measuring tape to begin and end to see the exact measurements. Alternatively, they can move their phones from A to B like a tape measure.
Besides the virtual measuring tape, the app can also capture and share users’ floor plans and project a level line to guarantee that wall art is hung straight.
Augmented reality interior design is not a passing trend
While some people love interior design, for others, redesigning a home can be a real headache. Fortunately, augmented reality interior design can save both of these kinds of customers a lot of hassle. For firms that specialise in home decor and homeware, embracing AR for interior decoration is therefore non-negotiable.
That being said, augmented reality interior design can be just as useful for interior designers. The reason why is that with augmented reality, interior designers can quickly show customers the different homeware and design options available and get their feedback instantly.
To get started with augmented reality interior design, you’ll first need to turn your products and projects into 3D models. Need some help with that? Our expert team at Poplar Studio would love to help. Get in touch with us today.